Tag Archives: Perception

Installation Preparation & Set-up

My tutors had allowed me to use one of the small upstairs rooms in PCA’s Studio 11.  The room was quite small at approximately 2.5m by 1.85m, however I felt this would be adequate for my installation and would give a more intimate, secure environment and less intimidating than a large open space.

I decided to repaint all of the walls white because although the room would be unlit  (allowing the projected film to be easily viewed), it would still be light enough for the table and chairs to be visible.

I also filled and sanded any gaps, covered any unused plug sockets with masking tape and painted and cleaned off the ceiling tiles.  I was happy with the standard ceiling tiles being present because they were something you would possibly find in a classroom anyway.

There was a problem with the floor as there was a stain which kept reappearing after paint application.  I thought about possible ways to get around the stained floor – one of which was to put down a carpet.  The carpet would be the kind of cheap, rough, corded, primary coloured carpet one might find in a classroom.  I thought this would again help to set the mood of the installation in that the audience would hopefully recognize the type of carpet used and perceive it to being classroom/school related.

After pricing up carpet I realized that I would have to get a much larger amount than required because it came on a 4m roll and would prove more costly than anticipated.  Also, I considered whether the use of a brand new carpet would compliment the older desk and chairs.  I decided not to use carpet after all and instead painted the floor grey.  The grey floor worked well and gave a stone or concrete affect which I was happy with and reminded of visiting historical villages and estates where there would be small classrooms with old wooden furniture and cold stone flooring.

Morwellham Quay Historic Port Village, Image of classroom with stone flooring. Image available at: http://www.morwellham-quay.co.uk/index.php?route=product/category&path=91_81
Morwellham Quay Historic Port Village, Image of classroom with stone flooring. Image available at: http://www.morwellham-quay.co.uk/index.php?route=product/category&path=91_81

With regard to the desk and chairs, I placed the desk in the far left corner at an angle.  I didn’t want it to be typically forward facing as it would be in a classroom.  Instead, I wanted the desk to take on a sense of animism – to become a living soul so to speak even though it was an inanimate object.  The desk already had a sense of history and with its original scribbles and etchings from children over the last few decades (1950s desk). My view of the desk was that it had ‘lived’ through many childhood experiences and possibly held the secrets and stories of the children who had sat at this desk and placed their belongings inside.  I angled the desk in the corner to give a sense of vulnerability and thought this could be comparable to a child being asked to stand in the corner of the class after misbehaving.

The two school chairs were placed at the opposite wall/corner to the desk to allow for two audience members to sit and watch the film if they wished to do so.  The chairs seemed to be for older children, whereas the desk seemed to be for infants.  I felt this would work well, as it would again give the desk a sense of vulnerability when compared to the larger school chairs and the audience looking on.

Below is a rough plan I drew out to give an idea of how the room would be set up (drawn to scale).  As one can see, the electric socket was on the back wall.  I had to use grips to hold the white extension cable in place along the right-hand wall to the projector. The cable was slightly visible but not distracting, however the smaller cable of the projector was black and quite noticeable – I may paint this white for PCA’s summer show.

Basic plan of installation. Image by Helanie Moore
Basic plan of installation. Image by Helanie Moore
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Steven Paige, Moral Development, 2013

During our student visit to Bristol in  October 2013 we had visited Motorcade Flash Parade, BV Studios and saw the resulting exhibition of our tutor Steven Paige’s 8 week residency there.

The piece on display was called Moral Development, 2013 and included videos, projections, televisions, furniture and publications. The title and influence of this exhibition was taken from from “a re-enactment [1971] of the infamous Stanley Milgrim experiment [1961] on ‘obedience to authority figures’” (Outcasting, 2013).  The projected film in Paige’s work is a further re-enactment using the script of the experiment with an actor answering the questions and “the authoritative ‘voice’” is substituted by subtitles (Ibid).

I was particularly interested in this work in connection to my current CURA300 project.  In Paige’s exhibition he has used an educational film as his inspiration and further highlighted the educational properties in his use of objects.  By doing so, Paige has created an environment which may evoke feelings of familiarity within the audience.  There were several recognizable classroom style pieces within the exhibition – including the plywood tables, projector stand, desk, factual publications and desk lamp. In terms of phenomenology and perception – one could make connections to ideas of learning and knowledge by simply looking at the furniture – without first witnessing the projection.

Steven Paige, Moral Development, 2013. Photograph by Helanie Moore
Steven Paige, Moral Development, 2013. Photograph by Helanie Moore
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Desk, lamp and publications in Steven Paige, Moral Development, 2013. Photograph by Helanie Moore
Plywood projection stand in Steven Paige, Moral Development, 2013. Photograph by Helanie Moore
Plywood projection stand in Steven Paige, Moral Development, 2013. Photograph by Helanie Moore

 

In a similar vein to Paige’s exhibition, I also wanted to create a classroom environment or feeling by using recognizable furniture.  By doing so, I hoped the school desk and chair would create a sense of nostalgia and memory as well as complimenting the film I had produced and give the overall installation more context.

Reference:

Outcasting, (2013). Screening / Totally Devoted. [online] Available at: http://www.outcasting.org/screening-totally-devoted/ [Accessed 5 Jun. 2014].

 

Phenomenology – Edmund Husserl/ Maurice Merleau-Ponty

Edmund Husserl was a German philosopher of the 19th/20th century and thought to be the founder of phenomenology.

From what I understood, following my research several years ago of French philosopher Maurice Merleau-Ponty’s book Phenomenology of Perception (Merleau-Ponty, n.d.), phenomenology is based on how one perceives an object based on their past experiences.  I thought it would be interesting to look further into this because my project uses recognizable objects which may be perceived differently by audience members dependent on their individual experiences.

Husserl believed that one should try to look at objects by not considering what we have learnt or been taught about the said object but rather by using our own “intuition” (Lewis & Staehler, p6, 2010) By doing so one would be able to experience the object without trying to interpret it (Ibid).  Therefore, “we should not accept anything we have learnt, any particular ways of thinking we might have inherited from our culture and upbringing – we are to verify everything ourselves, individually, with our own intuition” (Ibid).

I feel this is an interesting concept with regard to my own work as I am hoping that the audience will be able to make up their own minds about my installation and interpret it as they see fit.  However, I would also hope that they may be able to empathize with the work to a degree and find a shared experience and perception of the objects.

Reference:

Lewis, M. & Staehler, T. (2010) Phenomenology An Introduction. New York: Continuum International Publishing Group

Merleau-Ponty, M. (n.d.). Phenomenology of perception. 1st ed.

Ideas/Concept – Newton’s Cradle

As mentioned in an earlier post, I wished to use the image of the school plimsols hanging in the tree because it reminded me of my awkward school years as a child.  I was also surprised by how much these memories still effect how I perceive the world around me and how negative experiences can continue to haunt an individual and impact one’s  life regardless of the years that pass.

On watching the plimsolls swaying in the wind, it reminded me of a Newton’s Cradle – the shoes acted as the suspended spheres while the laces took the place of the wires.

Newton's Cradle. Photograph by Helanie Moore
Newton’s Cradle. Photograph by Helanie Moore

In terms of semiotics and visual metaphor, I felt that the Newton’s Cradle could also signify a singular, central figure surrounded by ongoing tension.

This could be applied to life experiences and in the case of the narrative I had created with the regard to the shoes, it could also relate to how a vulnerable adolescent may feel at school.

In David Chandler’s book Semiotics: the basics he highlights how the visual metaphor is used in film and advertising:

Metaphor need not be verbal.  In film, a pair of consecutive shots is metaphorical when there is an implied comparison of the two shots. For instance, a shot of an aeroplane followed by a shot of a bird flying would be metaphorical, implying that the aeroplane is (or is like) a bird.  So to would a shot of a bird landing accompanied by the sound of an airport tower and of a braking plane […] As with verbal metaphors we are left to draw our own conclusions as to the points of comparison (Chandler, 2007, p127)

There is also the idea of time passing with the continuous ticking as the spheres hit each other.  This could relate to the idea of how earlier experiences can be carried throughout life – consciously and subconsciously.  Also, as a child – I know from my own experience that time seemed to pass really slowly and it felt like I was at school forever.  However, as an adult I have noticed that it seems time passes a lot quicker – even though there is no actual slowing or quickening of time in reality.

Chandler also cites linguist George Lakoff and philosopher Mark Johnson’s principles of metaphor which I could consider in my work:

Text taken from: Chandler, D. (Semiotics: The Basics) p128
Text taken from: Chandler,  D. (2007) Semiotics: The Basics. New York: Routledge, p128

In their book Metaphors We Live By Lakoff and Johnson also discuss how one’s “conceptual system […] is fundamentally metaphorical by nature” and is not something we are necessarily aware of (Lakoff & Johnson, 1980, p3).  I found this train of thought extremely interesting in terms of how our conscious and subconscious perception works and how this relates to how one makes comparisons to things they come across on a daily basis without even realizing – much like my own experience of the plimsolls and Newton’s Cradle.

References:

Chandler,  D. (2007) Semiotics: The Basics. New York: Routledge

Lakoff, G. & Johnson, M. (1980) Metaphors We Live By. Chicago: University of Chicago

CURA300 Studio Practice Initial Ideas – Plimsolls

In my practical work I have often been interested in communicating ideas around social well-being through the use of recognizable symbols.  I also use my own experiences as a source of inspiration, but try to use ideas which could be cross-transferable to individuals.  Using objects, images and symbols I aim to create a narrative open to interpretation but which the viewer could perhaps empathize or find some familiarity within the work.

In terms of perception and objects, I had come across something which had created a narrative within my mind and brought about uncomfortable memories of my adolescent school days.  The ‘phenomenon’ in question was a pair of plimsolls (black trainer shoes) hanging from a tree that I had noticed over the past two years when walking my daughter to school.  For some reason and perhaps because of my own experiences, my perception of these plimsolls gave me a troublesome feeling in the pit of my stomach.  On witnessing these abandoned shoes I built up a narrative in my head that they had got there, through some kind of bullying incident between school children.  That perhaps a group of ‘popular’ kids had stolen the shoes from a vulnerable classmate and lobbed them in the tree for a laugh – much to the dismay of the shoe-less child.  I, of course cannot be sure of how these shoes had got in the tree and for all I knew, someone could have chucked their own shoes in the tree in the hope that their parents would buy them a new pair.  Nevertheless, I could not help feeling some sense of empathetic trauma every time I passed the tree.

Plimsolls hanging in tree. Photograph by Helanie Moore
Plimsolls hanging in tree. Photograph by Helanie Moore

I did not particularly enjoy my years at secondary school and was never one of the popular kids.  I was also subjected to bullying because of my religious upbringing which made me an easy target for prejudice and harassment.

With this in mind, I felt I could use this image in my practical work because of the strong effect it had had on me and perhaps it could potentially have some relevance to other people too.